One of the keys to communication between two parties (say, client project manager –> vendor project manager) is realizing that words carry baggage. And I do not speak of “baggage” here pejoratively, as we often do, but simply descriptively.
There is the dictionary definition of a word or phrase. Then, there is the meaning and significance embedded in our individual minds, which is attached to subjective ideas, past experiences, images, people, issues, etc. That is the internal definition or metadata (metadata means “information about information”).
These meanings may have quite a bit of emotional freight, or conceptual misunderstanding, attached to them. So in dealing with business communications, NEVER assume that everyone understands words the same way. Define. Discuss. Put it in writing. Do not leave it in the verbal ether, and discover 3 weeks down the road that even though it sounded like there was agreement when words were spoken – there clearly wasn’t.
So, in any business setting, it is vital to define your terms – to agree on the metadata. Here’s my 1-minute take on it:
Assume nothing. Clarify everything. It’ll save an awful lot of grief down the road if you have the metadata sync’ed up at the beginning!
Other one-minute videos:
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